- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2017

John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff, had his personal cell phone compromised several months ago, according to a new report, raising concerns that hackers or foreign intelligence services may have possibly intercepted his communications and stolen other sensitive information.

Mr. Kelly surrendered his cell phone to White House tech support over the summer because he believed the device wasn’t working or updating software properly, Politico reported Thursday citing three U.S. officials.

The technical experts who studied the device ultimately concluded that the phone had been compromised and should’t be used further, according to a one-page memo summarizing the incident published in September and seen by Politico.

Mr. Kelly told staffers that the phone had been malfunctioning for months, perhaps as early as last Dec. 2016, the same month Mr. Trump nominated him to head the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, officials told Politico.

The Senate confirmed the president’s nomination on Jan. 20, Mr. Trump’s first day in office, but Mr. Kelly’s stint as homeland security secretary became short-lived after he was re-appointed White House chief of staff six months later.

A White House spokesman said that Mr. Kelly stopped used the phone regularly upon joining the Trump administration and relies on his government-issued device for official communications within 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Politico reported.

Government-sanctioned devices and platforms are typically safeguarded by security measures designed to prevent data breaches. Personal devices usually lack these protections, making them relatively easier targets for hackers, spies and other eavesdroppers.

Secret Service personnel were notified last week, meanwhile, of a new White House policy prohibiting the use of all personal mobile devices, including cell phones, tablets and smart watches, within the entirety of the West Wing, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported Thursday evening, citing a leaked document she received.

“All personal devices will either be secured in provided lockboxes … or turned off completely prior to entering the West Wing,” the document said.

The White House and Secret Service declined to comment on the document, Ms. Maddow reported.

Mr. Trump regularly mocked former Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton on the campaign trial for infamously using a private email server to conduct official business while secretary of state, seemingly putting national security at risk by discussing classified intelligence on a platform potentially prone to hacking.

Politico reported last month that senior White House officials Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have both used personal email accounts, in addition to their government-provided accounts, for official correspondence.


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